The COVID-19 pandemic created many challenges when it comes to securing non counterfeit, safe personal protective equipment (PPE). Unfortunately many irreputable companies both in the United States and abroad have decided to take advantage of the soaring need for PPE to make a quick buck off of counterfeit equipment. This is especially prevalent among companies selling wholesale PPE equipment in bulk to hospitals, medical offices, schools, and other organizations. Using or providing staff with counterfeit masks can put them at risk for contracting COVID-19 and spreading the infection to others.
There are laboratory tests that can confirm the validity and efficacy of a KN95 mask. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the time or resources to access these tests and confirm our masks. However, there are a few simple things you can do to test to make sure the mask you’re using is safe right at home. While these tests may not be 100 percent reliable, they are a very good indication that your mask supply is real and safe or that you may need to find a new supplier.
Check The Fit And Seal.
A properly fitting, authentic KN95 mask should fit securely around the nose and mouth area. After securing your mask, place both hands over the front of the respirator. Exhale sharply. You should feel slight pressure inside the mask and you shouldn’t feel any air coming out of the sides of your mask. If your breath can get out, virus particles can get in.
Just because a mask fails this test, however, does not mean that it is for sure a fake. It might be that the person wearing the mask needs a different size, or needs to adjust the ear loops or back of head straps better. Read on to find some other tests you can perform to make sure your mask is authentic and safe.
Does It Hold Water?
Here, we mean to say “holding water” in both the literal and figurative sense! Filling your mask up with water is actually a great way to ensure it is not a counterfeit. Fill the inside of the mask with a small amount of water – about 1/4 cup is sufficient. If the water stays within the mask, the mask is probably not a counterfeit. If the water starts leaking through the mask, that means the mask is almost certainly not authentic and you should discard it.
Make sure to let your mask dry fully before using it.
The Lighter Test
The lighter test is another quick and easy way to check the authenticity of your KN95 mask. Put on your mask then light a lighter or match. If you can blow out the flame, the mask is probably not authentic nor safe. If you cannot, this is another good sign that this mask is safe to use.
The Smell Test
When wearing a properly fitted and authentic mask, your sense of smell should be diminished. While wearng your mask, find some food that has a strong odor. Some people use Sweet & Low, while others use ketchup. Either will work. Put a small amount of the food on the plate and lean your face near it. If you can smell it only faintly, that means your mask is probably safe and effective against COVID-19. If you can smell the food strongly, then this is a good indicator that your mask is probably not going to protect you against the infection.
While these tests aren’t exactly scientific, they are a great way to quickly and inexpensively check the efficacy of a mask when there is no time or money for a formal laboratory test. For more information on masks and keeping your staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can check the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization.